PTF10nvg: An Outbursting Class I Protostar in the Pelican/North American Nebula


During a synoptic survey of the North American Nebula region, the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) detected an optical outburst (dubbed PTF10nvg) associated with the previously unstudied flat or rising spectrum infrared source IRAS 20496+4354. The PTF R-band light curve reveals that PTF10nvg brightened by more than 5 mag during the current outburst, rising to a peak magnitude of R $_PTF$ ≈ 13.5 in 2010 September. Follow-up observations indicate that PTF10nvg has undergone a similar åisebox-0.5ex 5 mag brightening in the K band and possesses a rich emission-line spectrum, including numerous lines commonly assumed to trace mass accretion and outflows. Many of these lines are blueshifted by i̊sebox-0.5ex 175 km s$^-1$ from the North American Nebula's rest velocity, suggesting that PTF10nvg is driving an outflow. Optical spectra of PTF10nvg show several TiO/VO band heads fully in emission, indicating the presence of an unusual amount of dense (>10$^10$ cm$^-3$), warm (1500-4000 K) circumstellar material. Near-infrared spectra of PTF10nvg appear quite similar to a spectrum of McNeil's Nebula/V1647 Ori, a young star which has undergone several brightenings in recent decades, and 06297+1021W, a Class I protostar with a similarly reached near-infrared emission line spectrum. While further monitoring is required to fully understand this event, we conclude that the brightening of PTF10nvg is indicative of enhanced accretion and outflow in this Class-I-type protostellar object, similar to the behavior of V1647 Ori in 2004-2005.

Astronomical Journal